10 essential wedding planning tips

Top Tips for a ‘stress free’ wedding
Has the euphoria of your engagement worn off? Is the panic starting? Are you frantically scribbling lists (guest, budget, to-do), getting opinions on the best day to get married, and worrying about everything?

Calm down and take a deep breath. Over the next few weeks, we will be posting 50 top tips on all things ‘wedmin’. From the ceremony and reception to the pampering and honeymoon, if you follow these simple steps for getting married your wedding day is sure to be stylish and without stress. Today’s top tips are all about ‘planning’.


1. Slow down: After you have announced your engagement, and have calmed down enough to think properly, let the ring cool off a little and take time to decide what kind of wedding you want. Dream big. You can adjust your fantasies to reality later. Do you want a raging party for hundreds of people? A quiet family affair in the garden? Do you have budget limitations or family traditions you need to incorporate? Use this time to sort out what is important and what is trivial, before you get into the nitty-gritty details of planning your wedding.

2. Establish a budget: Money or the lack of it is top on the list for creating wedding stress. You need to find out who is paying for the wedding and how much each person is willing to contribute. Be relentless on this topic. You can’t plan a single thing until you know how much money you have to spend. Try to avoid using your credit card to pay for the wedding. Going into debt may allow you to have the wedding of your dreams, but you will start your new marriage with a heavy burden.

3. Scale back: Revisit your dream wedding scenario. Pick two or three extravagant elements. A couture dress. An over-the-top wedding cake. A gourmet formal dinner. Spend the bulk of your budget on these special items and scrimp or cut corners on the rest.

4. Set a flexible wedding date: Aim for a target month or season. This will give you breathing room when you try to book your church/wedding venue and reception site. This will be less nerve wracking than trying to find two perfect places available on a firm date. Book these two venues first, as they are generally the most competitive and available dates fill up fast, particularly if you want a Saturday wedding.

5. Start early: Begin planning your wedding a year in advance. In demand wedding and reception venues and high profile suppliers could be booked for years. Securing any kind of top-notch supplier will require you to plan early. Establish a calendar with clearly defined deadlines. This will help you stay on track, and will keep you from scrambling at the last minute. Most bridal books and magazines include handy time-lines you can reference for each stage of the wedding.

6. Create a guest list everyone can live with: This is your wedding, but you might not be paying for it. If you are footing the bill you can afford to be firm with the guest list. If your parents or even the groom’s parents are paying for the wedding, you need to be flexible. Establish the maximum number of people your budget will handle. Allow each person to create a wish list with every person they want to invite. Ask them to rank each guest. Use the rankings to create a guest list you all are invested in.

7. Get organized: Buy or create some type of planner, organizer, or binder. Use it to store contracts, phone numbers, notes, and lists all in one place. This is the place to record appointments for fittings and tastings. Use it to keep track of deposits paid and owed, menus, fabric swatches, and guest lists. Use your organizer, faithfully to avoid frantic searches for phone numbers or contracts.

8. Learn the lingo: Nothing frustrates a baker, florist or bespoke dressmaker more than a bride who knows what she wants– but can’t explain it. Use visual aids to translate your ideas. Tear out pages in magazines; carry fabric swatches in your wedding colors. Come up with a list of keywords that are evocative of your wedding theme (Romantic, modern, elegant, sophisticated, or retro). Learn to speak the language of your suppliers. Do you know the difference between fondant and butter cream icing? Can you tell a peony from a petunia? The ability to communicate will save you tons of headache (and unexpected surprises) down the road.

9. Pick your bridesmaids with care: You are not obligated to have anyone in your wedding. Keep the numbers down, more than six bridesmaids will be difficult to manage. Choose carefully because great bridesmaids can ease the burden of the wedding. Your bridesmaids can help find your wedding dress, run errands, plan showers, and organize hen parties. Choose people who are important to you, who are invested in your relationship, and will help see you through the wedding stress.

10. Be unconventional: Most wedding stress is self-inflicted. Yes, you are planning a massive party for a ton of people. Yes, you are about to devote the rest of your life to someone. But this is supposed to be fun and special, remember? Don’t let yourself fall into the trap of worrying about doing everything the “right” way. There is no right way. Maybe you don’t want to serve wedding cake, and want pie instead. Do it. Is your fiance’s best friend a girl—let her be a groomsman! Avoid getting hung up on “traditional” and “normal”. Simply have a wedding that feels right.